Fonseka proud to have led Army
Chief of Defence Staff General Sarath Fonseka yesterday said he was proud to have led the Army in its victorious war against terrorism.
He said, "I am proud to have commanded the victorious Army against the LTTE in Eelam War IV to save the country. During my tenure of three years and seven months as the Army Commander, I ensured that the Sri Lanka Army became almost the best Army in the world."
Addressing the officers and men of Army, as its senior most serving officer, on the Army’s 60th anniversary Gen. Fonseka said: "I had to make drastic changes in the army which had not hitherto taken place in the 60-year history of the force. All this was done without any personal agenda, but in the interest of the country."
He said it had become imperative that the Army undergo those changes to evolve as a professional outfit.
Gen. Fonseka said he still became popular amongst the good officers and men who welcomed the changes though the weak hated his approach.
"This may the last time I will be addressing the officers and men of the Army as an Army officer."
"I consider the last 30 years of the Army’s 60-year-old history as the most difficult period when it suffered heavy losses in terms of manpower and resources and it looked as though there was no light at the end of the tunnel as terrorism grew from strength to strength. The toughest period in the Ealam War was the last three and a half years when I had to place the entire Army under tremendous pressure to ensure victory in a short period of time," he said.
"Although the pressure exerted was not palatable to the weak, for those outstanding, efficient and dedicated officers it was most welcome and the weak who failed to keep pace with the demands may be still cursing me while the dedicated professional officers and men may be appreciating all that they had to undergo. I am confident those officers with high integrity also would have approved of the way I handled the affairs adhering to Army norms and ethics. The last three and a half years saw remarkable changes in various areas, such as selecting and identifying the outstanding to form the main stream, changing concepts and tactics, perfect operational planning and ensuring their execution, efficient administration of the Army preventing corruption and maintaining discipline, not believing in tamashas but, encouraging sacrifice and determination to eradicate terrorism," he said.
"During the period we were marching towards victory I saw those with commitment toiling day and night while those with the mentality of clerks thought it fit to leave office by 4.30 p.m. But officers with a strong will and commitment coped with pressure when the weak considered pressure as a threat."
He said he was glad that he could reward all efficient commanders at various levels while disregarding the weak. "Those officers and men who worked with a sense of sacrifice, especially those maimed and injured in the war must be remembered with the highest gratitude by the whole nation and by all of us. It is with great pain of mind that we remember some of them as they are not with us today."
"I am grateful to all officers and men who cooperated to make our army the best Army in the world and I am glad that I was able to render my service although all individuals wouldn’t have been comfortable. Today, I am a very satisfied man as the Army I commanded saved the nation and country from terrorism."
General Fonseka appreciated the leadership provided by the President and the invaluable contribution made by the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, which, he said, had helped the Army in a big way to reach the desired heights.
Fonseka urged all officers and men to ensure that the
standards achieved are not allowed to deteriorate: "If you allow low
standards everyone will blame you.
"Wait and see
Asked whether he would accept the appointment as Secretary to the Sports Ministry, General Fonseka said, "You will have to wait and see."
Responding to a question whether he had declined the offer made by the President, he replied in the negative and said "I never told the President that I will not accept the post but some other party with whom I happened to talk had told President that I declined the offer."